• May 2018

    After three months devoted mainly to transcribing the flow of 170 rap songs for my dissertation, May has offered a change of pace, full of performance projects. For the first two weeks of the month I collaborated with l'Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal on Hockey Noira new opera with music by Andre Ristic, libretto by Cecil Castellucci, and graphics by Kimberlyn Porter. This work combines contemporary music, graphic-novel style video projection, and elements of film noir. We performed it twice in Montreal at le Monument National, and repeated the production twice in Toronto at the Jane Mallett Theatre at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

    Following this, I got right back into it with Architek Percussion. Fresh off the launch of our debut album, The Privacy of Domestic Life (released April 24th on Centrediscs), we recommenced work with Collectif9 on our joint project "My Backyard, Somewhere". The preimere of this show, featuring work by Eliot Britton, Nicole Lizée, Bret Higgins, Derek Charke, and Luna Pearl Woolf, occurs on June 9 at Usine C in Montreal. 

    Finally, Architek is happy to announce our upcoming collaboration with percussionists from Sixtrum (Montreal), TorQ (Toronto), EP4 (Quebec City), and others, on a brand new outdoor show called "Rhythmopolis", which will be held in Montreal in early September. This spectacle promises to be over the top, and is definitely one of the most audacious projects we've partnered on to date. Don't miss it! 

    All three of these projects were made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts' New Chapters funding program.


  • summer 2017

    Once again, on a flight home from a conference, I find myself having little interest in what Air Canada has on offer for seatback entertainment. Sensing an annual tradition, my thoughts turn to reflection on the year that has passed and the one that emerges ahead. Since my life seems to divide somewhat cleanly between academics, performance, and family, that seems to be the best way to organize this update!

    Academics: year three of the PhD has passed without incident. I completed my comprehensive exams in May, which means I’m about to enter the vast, murky, but potentially rewarding phase of dissertation writing. With the help of attending stimulating conferences organized by the Society for American Music, the IASPM Canada chapter, and the joint European Societies for Music Analysis (EuroMAC, from which I’m currently heading home), my thoughts on how the dissertation might proceed become increasingly clearer. Stay tuned for more on this: those who see me this coming year can anticipate my ramblings and questions about hip-hop vocal rhythms.

    (Strasbourg - where EuroMAC 9 was held)

    Performance: while some of my performing activities have been momentarily (I hope!) shelved due to a busy year with exams, Architek Percussion is still going strong: touring, recording, making Christmas videos, and generally engaging in a wide variety of percussion tomfoolery. The archi-lads and I went on three tours this past year: England/Norway, Ontario/Western Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. That is not entirely accurate, as the ever-brilliant Dan Morphy of TorQ took my place on the third tour and knocked it out of the park (I can say this with confidence for having snuck up on Architek at their Halifax concert - see below). We’ll be touring less this coming year, but are excited to engage in new projects with Collectif9 and Sixtrum, as well as record our first full-length album with the tireless help of Adam Basanta and Denis Martin.

    (it's a bit strange being in the audience watching an ensemble that you're normally on stage with...)

    Family: Jess, Simon, and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of another boy later this summer! I’m already planning a steady listening diet of hip-hop for him…

  • hi

    Fact: I am a sucker for sappy rom-coms, especially when I’m flying. I think it has to do with their innocuousness vs. my apprehension for turbulence; the lighter the fare, the less I think about the bumps. I’ve seen some of the finest worst movies on flights. On a recent trip home from Calgary, having already watched one of said movies, and with no reading material in sight to last me the remaining 45 minutes (unless I wanted to read about where I could dine from Tofino to Tel Aviv for more money than I’d ever spend on a meal - thanks a lot en route magazine), I decided to write this update!  It was that or watch reruns of 2 Broke Girls. To be clear, I would chose turbulence and no seatback TV over 2 Broke Girls.

    So! Here we are.

    Academics: year 2 of my PhD appears to be over. I completed my coursework, learned some German, and recently presented some of my research on Gerard Grisey and spatial music, Golden-Age hip-hop, and publishing habits in the music theory discipline. Next up is comprehensive exams - so it’s unlikely another post will happen here until this time 2017...

    Performance: most of my performing this last year has been with Architek Percussion, which ain’t no slouch. We toured the Montreal boroughs with support from the Conseil des Arts de Montreal, playing our Blips and Beats program for four drum kits, and collaborated with groups such as TorQ Percussion and Viva Voce. In August we’ll be travelling to the UK and Norway to work with composers there on some new repertoire, and to perform Adam Basanta’s The Privacy of Domestic Life.

    Life: is still ticking along. Summer weather and scheduling bring more opportunity to chase my toddler around playgrounds, teach him how to “play” soccer, go exploring with Jess, watch friends get married, figure out what tastes best on my BBQ, and sit on some of the 234980398234098 great bar and cafe patios that Montreal’s population manages to support. Of course I’ll do some work too, or I’ll end up as penniless as the female co-stars of the TV show I mentioned earlier.

  • Fall 2015

    2015 so far:

    Academics: finished first year of a PhD in Music Theory: most coursework is now completed, and the upcoming academic year includes some interesting collaborative research with Denis Martin funded by CIRMMT, more undergraduate teaching, and the completion of language reading exams and remaining seminars. 14/15's success is measured by the fact that I am still interested in my program and music theory in general. I find that the upkeep of this interest in the discipline requires equal doses of idealism, skepticism, and self-awareness. Put another way, I love what I'm researching, but I evaluate its usefulness and validity on an ongoing basis, reminding myself that, in the present situation of music academics, music theory can be both vital and peripheral.

    Performance: travelled near and far with Architek Percussion, namely Edmtonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Halifax, and Indianapolis. Premiered many great new works, re-visited old ones, engaged with new audiences, and made a few bucks. The upcoming year promises some new terrain for the ensemble in the way of more ambitious collaborations and touring.

    Other: entered year 4 of marriage and year 2 of fatherhood. Travelled to Chicago for the first time and snapped a whole lot of panoramas when I wasn't busy visiting ballparks, sampling local brews and coffee roasts, or marvelling at architecture.

  • November

    It's been a while since I've posted here: lots of changes in my life over the past few months. I enjoyed a relaxing summer settling into fatherhood and doing a lot of recreational travelling (and watching as much world cup as possible). In September I started a PhD in Music Theory at McGill University, where my research will focus on rhythmic developments in hip-hop vocal practices from the genre's beginning to present. But I'm not there yet: for now I have my hands full with coursework and teaching, all the while balancing with my performance activities.

    In a few weeks, Architek Percussion will be heading to Indianapolis to perform at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). We'll be presenting Spinefold; Opinions by James O'Callaghan. This work is composed for four amplified hardcover books. See below for a video of the Feb. 2014 premiere.

    On Nov 30, the Trinity Western University Masterworks Choir, under the direction of Joel Tranquilla, will be including my work Materia Ex Nihilo in their concert at Vancouver's Chan Centre. This work is for SSAATTBB chorus and solo marimba, and the choir will be joined by percussionist Daniel Tones.

    December brings the usual slew of Christmas concerts and end-of-term madness, as well as some recording and rep development with Architek Percussion.


  • May / June

    Back at it with Viva Voce this month and next, first performing the program I was involved in last November in Venice.  This involves myself, Ellen Wieser, Edmund Milly, and Meagan Zantingh all under the direction of Peter Schubert.  This is a quasi-improvised program, where we explore, through improvisation and performed repertoire, some of the improvisation / pedagogical techniques used in the Renaissance.  Very interesting and fulfilling to learn about these techniques by performing them - it leads to a better understanding than just learning about them through reading.  I believe strongly in the idea of tying in music research to the actual practices of composing and performing, as well as listening.  The more we tie our scholarly activity to the actual musical experience, the better.

    The Venice performance was held on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, hosted by the Fondazione Cini.  What a beautiful setting to perform 15th and 16th century repertoire.

    Needless to say, I took advantage of being in Italy to see some other things too...

    In June, I'll be taking part in Viva Voce's final concert of 2013 / 2014, where we'll be performing works by Schoenberg, Brahms, Verdi, Bax, Stravinsky, and others.

  • Fatherhood / New Directions

    It's been a cold winter in Canada, but with the arrival of April things are beginning to look up.  Architek Percussion was busy throughout March, performing several times at the Cluster Festival in Winnipeg, and once more at O Patro Vys in Montreal.  We had a great time at Cluster; our hosts were very generous, and all our colleagues were an inspiration (not to mention providing some good hangs).  We perfromed 11 new works based on Georges Aperghis' Zig Bang book.  You can watch some of them on Architek's youtube page.  An exciting and fulfilling project to be sure, and a real pleasure to work with the 11 composers involved!

    The end of March brought two more pieces of good news.  First - my acceptance back to McGill, where I'll begin a PhD in Music Theory in September.  The last few years have been fun and exciting, but I'm looking forward to returning to the academic world for this new venture, where I'll be studying analytical techniques of popular music, particularly focussing on rhythm / metre as they relate to form.  Second - our baby Simon made it into the world without incident at the end of March, and he's doing great.  Three weeks later, he can already play most Beatles songs on the piano, and is beginning to learn how to read guitar tablature.  What a guy!  Now if I can only teach him to change his own diaper...

  • 2014

    A new year always entails looking back at the year that was and forward to what lies ahead.  First: looking back.  2013 provided a lot of stimulating artistic activity, great times at home and abroad, all in the company of great colleagues and friends.  Some of the highlights include:

    • tours with Sixtrum / O Vertigo, Architek Percussion, and (insert TITLE) duo;
    • perfromance projects with Bradyworks, Sixtrum, and others;
    • research performance activity in Venice, IT, and;
    • travelling to new places, seeing family/friends along the way

    Looking ahead, I hope 2014 offers the same level of excitment and satisfaction.  One thing is for sure; by mid-April I'll be a father!  Here we go....